Judge Blocks Trump’s Move to Deny Green Cards to Recipients of Government Benefits

According to POLITICO . . .

Under the Trump administration’s measure, immigrants will be scrutinized for their use of food stamps, welfare, Medicaid, and housing assistance.

Three separate federal judges have blocked a Trump administration regulation that permits immigration officials to deny green cards to immigrants who receive certain government benefits.

The rulings prevented the so-called public charge regulation from taking effect on Oct. 15, 2019.  Under the measure, immigrants would have been scrutinized for their use of food stamps, welfare, Medicaid, and housing assistance — or the likelihood they might use such benefits in the future.

Judges in New York and Washington State both issued nationwide injunctions blocking the policy. A third judge in California limited her ruling to the plaintiffs’ states and counties.

In a 24-page order, Manhattan-based U.S. District Judge George Daniels said the Trump administration likely exceeded its authority when it expanded the guidelines for determining who should be labeled a public charge.

Judge Daniels further ripped the administration’s new standard, saying it “has absolutely no support in the history of U.S. immigration law.”

“The rule is simply a new agency policy of exclusion in search of a justification,” he wrote.

The three decisions deal a blow to Trump’s attempt to rework the legal immigration system to exclude poorer immigrants and increase skill-based admissions. White House senior adviser Stephen Miller considers the regulation a top priority and lambasted Trump officials last year for not moving fast enough to put it into effect.

Critics argue the public charge regulation will discourage immigrants and their family members from accessing food and health care, even in cases when they’re entitled to receive it.

Local health providers said last year that they saw enrollment drop in a federal nutrition program for pregnant people and children following the release of a draft version of the measure.

The rulings come after Trump issued a proclamation that will require immigrants to prove they can obtain health insurance before they are issued a green card, a move that targets a similar population as the public charge regulation. POLITICO reported that officials who oversee the nation’s health insurance markets have raised concerns privately that the insurance mandate — which was set to go into effect Nov. 3 — could be unworkable or even illegal.

The New York ruling will keep the policy blocked nationwide, at least temporarily.  The Justice Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment, but likely will appeal the decision.

Cuccinelli Strikes Again

Acting U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Director Ken Cuccinelli argued in a written statement that the regulation ultimately would be upheld.

“Long-standing federal law requires aliens to rely on their own capabilities and the resources of their families, sponsors, and private organizations in their communities to succeed,” he said. “An objective judiciary will see that this rule lies squarely within long-held existing law.”

In the New York decision, Daniels, an appointee of President Bill Clinton, said plaintiffs in a pair of related cases likely would suffer irreparable harm if the regulation was allowed to go forward. The lawsuits were brought by the states of New York, Connecticut, Vermont, the city of New York, and New York-based advocacy groups and service providers.

New York State Attorney General Tish James lauded the decision stating in a tweet:

“This rule would have had devastating impacts on New Yorkers and our nation,” she wrote “and today’s decision is a critical step in our efforts to uphold the rule of law.”

For additional information, contact: 

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